Injured player finds new lease of life thanks to innovative brace

Paul Wilson, 32, from Croydon suffered a rugby injury at 18 many years ago, that badly dislocated his left knee, leaving him with a condition known as drop foot. Drop foot occurs as a result of nerve damage in the leg, or the result of a brain or spinal injury and sometimes, as in Paul’s case, it is permanent.

Paul, currently a manager at Harlequins Foundation the charitable arm of Harlequins FC, used an NHS splint for 2 years until his parents came across an advert in the Daily Telegraph for Dorset Orthopaedic. After looking on the website, Paul visited the southern-based clinic and quickly became a patient. After a consultation with in-house orthotist, Kim Pickering, Paul was prescribed a Silicone Ankle Foot Orthosis (SAFO) Classic, which he wore for a while and helped to lift his dropped foot when walking.

Due to Paul’s sport lifestyle, he found he needed something a little more dynamic and opted for the SAFO Sport, which is designed slightly differently to give the wearer more lift in their foot. Paul has completed triathlons, the London Marathon, plays cricket, and continue to play rugby after the injury for 5 seasons. . He has also picked up boxing, with a view to complete in white collar charity events.. Currently, he wears a black SAFO Sport, and unlike other splints that are more rigid and stick out from trousers, the discrete design of the SAFO makes it so that when he wears trousers, he says “you would never ever know” that he was wearing it as it is only visible when he wears shorts.

“My SAFO Sport is not limiting me to do stuff; the usual day to day is brilliant. The comfort and the ability to do day to day activities has improved massively since using it,” says Paul. When he is Boxing, Paul leads with his left foot and would continuously catch his foot on the canvas “it [SAFO Sport] has a little bit more lift, so when I’m running, going to the gym, or doing anything that is more explosive, that little bit more toe clearance improved my ability to jump,” Paul explains. As a result of his new ankle brace, Paul experiences reduced leg fatigue and is far more confident to leap over things during sport.

Paul’s advice for anyone going through a similar journey is that drop foot “doesn’t stop you from doing stuff, it may slow you down a little and it may stop you from achieving a certain time or speed. But the SAFO has made a huge difference in my quality of life, it would be a lot more uncomfortable and I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I have done without it.”